I’m right in the middle of a busy season in school and I absolutely love it. The amount of reading and writing assigned each week leaves little time for anything else, but I’m discovering a good rhythm that allows me to spend time with family and friends and complete my assignments without too much stress. My Giant Church Inc work came in handy recently when I used part of it for one of my mid-term projects. I’ll share it in upcoming Giant Church Inc posts.
People reach out to me regularly to ask how they can find a healthy church and how to tell the difference between one and well…..Giant Church Inc. I encourage them to read A Church Called Tov by Scot McKnight and Laura Barringer. They do a fantastic and thorough job of contrasting the two.
I think it would be a great idea if we could find out which churches are doing the work of creating cultures of goodness. GRACE is on a mission to make our churches safer. Through education, consultation, and accountability, GRACE believes we can work together for the sake of those who have been abused. I contacted GRACE and asked if they offer to the public a list of churches which have been through their Safeguarding Initiative, organizational assessment, or other services they provide. They do not offer a list but Pete Singer, the executive director of GRACE, offered to schedule a phone call. He was kind enough to talk with me about what to look for in a safe church.
The Heavy Work
Pete said it’s important that we’re educated about abuse in the church. That’s why GRACE has articles and other free resources available on their website. They host Facebook lives with experts and encourage the audience to ask questions. GRACE has a YouTube channel where their past lives and other videos are available. Beyond that, we can meet with church leadership or send an email to ask a few questions:
- Does the church have a child-safeguarding policy book?
- Do those on the youth and children’s ministry teams know what to do if someone reports an incident?
- Does the church collaborate with mental health professionals outside of the church to offer guidance?
- Has the church had any allegations of child sex abuse?
- How did the church respond?
- Did the church protect the victim?
- What did the church leadership learn and did they adjust their policies?
Then I asked him what kept him hopeful in this work. Because it’s a heavy work. To be clear, I’m not in the trenches like most advocates. Yes, I meet with people and listen to their stories. I write about spiritual abuse. I serve with a non-profit helping the church do better. That’s small compared to the work of GRACE, trauma counselors, the pastors who shepherd their people, and the other advocates doing this work full-time. And still, it gets heavy.
Those doing this work experience what Pete called secondary traumatic stress. He mentioned the importance of self-care and pointed me to the University of Buffalo School of Social Work. They have resources for developing a personal self-care plan. Besides his own spiritual disciplines that help him fight the tendency to give in to discouragement, he suggested a book called Hope Rising: How the Science of Hope Can Change Your Life. Diane Langberg frequently shares about the few times that she decided she could no longer do the work of helping traumatized people. God had another idea, so she set out to be intentional about the care of her soul and self. I believe this is important for all of us. How can we pour out what we’ve not taken in?
Did You Say Gala?
Speaking of those who do the work, look for more information regarding the Tears of Eden Virtual, Live Gala happening in November. We’re hosting the event to spread the word about our work and share stories of some people who’ve been helped by it. You’ll learn more about Tears of Eden and the hopes and dreams for the Tears community. If you want to support this work, there are several ways you can do that.
- Submit a story or a book review that may end up on the blog. Go here for more info.
- Listen and subscribe to the Uncertain podcast here.
- Follow Uncertain Podcast on Instagram here.
- Join the Tears o Eden mailing list here.
- Donate to Tears of Eden here.
- Join us for the Virtual Gala.
While you’re waiting for the Virtual Gala listen to one of the many awesome interviews available on the Uncertain podcast. Katherine has interviewed Diane Langberg, Julie Roys, Beth Allison Barr, Aimee Byrd, Mike Sloan, and more.
We are excited about what’s ahead for Tears of Eden and we’d love for you to be part of it! Feel free to contact us if you have questions or for more information.